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How are Athletic and Sports-related Injuries Assessed and Treated?

Sports-related injuries are acute or chronic injuries that affect elite and amateur athletes alike. Many of these injuries tend to stem from minor trauma to muscles, ligaments, and/or tendons. 

Contusions, sprains, and strains are common injuries suffered by athletes in general, but there are serious injuries, like a head injury, that athletes could also be faced with. One cannot predict when a sports injury will occur, but assessment and treatment are important to recovery and getting back in the game. Here’s a look at how athletic/sports-related injuries are assessed and treated.

Initial On-Field Assessment: ABCDE

At the time of the injury on-field, the medical team should assess for consciousness and extremity motion. An evaluation of the athlete should start with the standard “ABCDE” trauma protocol.

  • The first step in this process is the checking if AIR is moving in and out stabilizing the neck and spine in the neutral position
  • Move on to BREATHING, checking for obstruction, respiratory rate, labored breathing and uneven chest rise
  • Next, check CIRCULATION by finding a pulse checking different location, such as radial/wrist
  • Then DISABILITY, which is a neurological evaluation, checking alertness
  • Finally, check the EXPOSURE AND ENVIRONMENT and assess if the environment is a danger to the injured athlete’s condition and limit exposure to elements like the cold or wind.

The proper method of transportation of the injured athlete can be determined following an initial on-field assessment.

Treatment of Athletic and Sports-related Injuries

  • Self-treatment: An athlete may not be able to administer self-treatment depending on the nature of an athletic or sports-related injury. Athletes may try the P.R.I.C.E method: Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation to self-treat an initial injury. An athlete should also try and protect injured tissues by applying a brace, for example.
    • To facilitate healing of the injured tissue or ligament, rest, even if you have to do so selectively. Do ice to reduce inflammation that can cause swelling and pain. Compression in the form of gentle pressure can help to decrease swelling. Elevation limits blood flow to the injured area, helping to minimize swelling, pain, and discomfort.
  • Medication: Certain forms of medication can help to alleviate symptoms of athletic/sport injuries. Acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen can be used to reduce pain and inflammation if taken as directed.
  • Rehabilitation: An important part of treating sports injury is rehabilitation. It can involve  routine reconditioning treatment and personalized, targeted exercises to help you return to pre-injury or normal function.

How athletic/sports injuries are assessed and treated is key to recovery and getting back to top performance. Initial assessment and the course of treatment should not be short-changed if an athlete is to return to top form.

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